Manchester United’s failure to qualify for the Champions League will not impede them from signing the best players in the world.
There has been a major debate this season, before, during and after the sacking of manager David Moyes over whether Manchester United will be able to ‘attract’ top players from around the world without playing in the Champions League in 2014-15.
However, one thing many have forgotten is that football players enjoy a very short career and, subsequently, are usually concerned with earning as much money as possible in the shortest period of time, and I’m not talking about wages.
Who is United’s highest paid player? Wayne Rooney of course, and the No.10 just signed a new contract worth a reported £300,000-a-week in wages. However, crucially, the England star earns a huge amount from his own commercial sponsorship deals – he is a brand in his own right just like Red Devils legend David Beckham, who is the highest paid in terms of sponsorship, even after retiring.
Meanwhile, United are just about to secure a massive world record sponsorship deal with Nike worth a reported £600 million – why are they the club who will sign the biggest deal? Because they are one of the biggest, most successful, most well-known and popular brands on the planet.
The exposure players get internationally from playing in the Premier League is unreal, never mind playing for Manchester United – footballers in Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga can only dream of the boot deals on offer to top players in the the English top flight and in La Liga. While a club like Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund or Paris Saint-Germain, for example, can offer players wages on par with Rooney’s deal at Old Trafford, they cannot (yet) offer the same level of global exposure and commercial appeal which, in the modern era, is as important to youngsters as wages. United can make people like Toni Kroos ore Marco Reus into an international icon like Beckham, Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo.
In the Premier League, Manchester United players account for the top two wealthiest footballers in the league (Rooney and Rio Ferdinand), and have four of their players in the top 10 highest paid English players and two of the top 10 highest earning foreign players in Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie.
Not one player from outside the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A is in the top 10 of the highest earning boot deals in world football. Wayne Rooney earns roughly £1 million a year from his deal with Nike. Reus signed a new boot deal with Puma in 2012, but it’s likely nowhere near the £1.2 million per year Sergio Aguero earns, the massive £3.1 million per year Cesc Fabregas gets or the £4 million Mario Balotelli takes home - all from Puma. Those players’ reputations and global fame (the very thing that makes them so commercially powerful) was cultivated in the Premier League, and there is no bigger Premier League brand than Manchester United.
Players have accountants and financial advisors even at the tender age of 18 in this modern footballing landscape and those advisors will look at the two highest earning players in the world, in terms of endorsement deals, and see the one thing they both have in common – Cristiano Ronaldo (£4.9 million a year with Nike) and David Beckham (£6.9 million a year with Adidas) became superstars because of playing for Manchester United.